Drivers Happy With Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – While only one of two days of compatibility testing at Daytona International Speedway has been completed, the drivers and teams of the IRL IndyCar series who took part in today’s test are quite satisfied with the 2.73-mile, 10-turn road circuit and the results achieved.

From the moment the first car went on track shortly after 10 a.m. (ET), it appears everybody involved has been pleased with today’s event – which could lead to a spring training date for the IRL as early as 2007 and possibly a race date if everything goes well.

"It’s a pleasure to be a little part of motorsports history – not only for Daytona but the IndyCar Series," said Meira, who became the first driver of an Indy-style car to go on track since 1959. "My very first lap was very, very cool. It sure felt good being the first, though it wasn’t planned that way.

"It’s such a huge pleasure to be here, there have been so many big names and big events that have been held at Daytona, it’s an honor to be a part of history for the track and the IndyCar Series."

Even Scott Dixon, who was part of the race winning team at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, sensed the uniqueness of the situation.

"I think it feels strange. The only times I’ve been here, I’ve seen tin-top cars or NASCARs or things like that. To see an IndyCar here, even sitting on the pit lane in interesting," said Dixon. "There’s some history here with the Daytona 500 or the sports cars. I’ve been able to witness it. It is special there is a lot of history for us to be here is a big day for everybody."

While both series and track officials stayed mum on the possibility of a future race date, they were as pleased as the teams and drivers with today’s action.

"We (are) excited to be here and it’s going well. I’ve been up in race control and from that vantage point it looked good," said IRL President Brian Barnhart.

However, the day was not just about the famed circuit.

Two of the four teams at Daytona, Marlboro Team Penske and Andretti Green Racing, are using the newly developed 3.5 liter Indy V-8 Honda engine fueled by 100% fuel grade Ethanol.

"We did a bunch of laps, and I’m working my butt off. It ran perfect," said AGR driver Tony Kanaan. "We have a couple of things to adjust mapping-wise because it’s a different fuel, but so far and so good."

The remaining two teams, Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Panther Racing, are using the 2006 engine package and fuels.

Even with the different engines being used, all four teams reported drivers running top-end speeds over 185 mph and lap times around the 1:15 mark.

Teams will return tomorrow for the final day of compatibility testing at DIS. The day will consist of two sessions, with the first taking place between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. (ET) and the final one occurring from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (ET). Fans have the opportunity to attend the test with the purchase of a track tour, which are available at DAYTONA USA.

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